Spring 2019
Let’s Party! By Debbie Eisele

Help your customers throw the party of their dreams

Spring is here and summer is around the corner. The change of seasons always seems to bring parties and celebrations — both inside and out. Simple, cozy gatherings, a child’s birthday party, and elegant affairs are planned and executed with common elements: invitations, decorations, dinnerware, and, of course, the food and beverages.

Party favors are another important component to a great gathering as party-throwers find ways to show guests some appreciation. Gift Shop reached out to a few retailers to learn about trends and ideal solutions to help shop owners meet the needs of any host or hostess.

Know the Path to Success

According to Tina Marchand from Ellie and Piper Party Boutique, “The key ingredients should ignite all the senses — pretty decorations, great company, fun games, tasty food, and upbeat music. All of these things combined create good vibes for any joyous occasion to be celebrated!”

Tina Marchand, owner Ellie and Piper. Photo courtesy of Ellie and Piper.

Mary Billings, owner of Love of Character, in Wichita, Kansas, offers this advice to her customers, “Find a couple supplies or decorations that excite you, and then plan around those. Outsource as needed to avoid overwhelming yourself (if you can’t cook, don’t try to for others). Have enough food and drinks. Get yourself ready with plenty of time, so when your guests arrive you are ready to greet them.”

Mary Billings, owner Love of Character. Photo courtesy of Love of Character.

A shop’s success comes from its customers’ success, so many stores are capturing the hearts of patrons by offering a myriad of products and services. For instance, additional services such as event space, or party planning services may help create a niche market for retailers, all while generating some extra revenue and assisting their customers who have limited time to do this task themselves. Retailers may consider stocking common items party throwers will require, items an entertainer may not realize are necessary, and offering services such as space for gatherings to occur.

Photo by Love of Character.

Retailers Create Solutions

Independent retailers can provide solutions for a majority, if not all, of a party thrower’s needs. One piece of advice given by Marchand was to know what sells. “Top sellers in gifts include coffee mugs, fragrant candles, handmade soaps, stationery items like notepads and notebooks, and home gifts like recipe cards,” said Marchand.

Photo courtesy of Love of Character.

Knowing what are best-sellers helps owners or managers create merchandising techniques to promote more sales, cross-selling of products or up-selling to other commonly purchased items. Providing in-store examples of a tabletop with all the items ready for a party is a great way for customers to see a whole solution rather than a particular item on a checklist.

Merchandising products in a way to help customers is also another factor for retailers to consider. Products should be easy to locate to help shoppers find everything on their list. Marchand said, “As an online retailer, I carefully categorize my merchandise by product type, themes, or occasions. Customers can navigate easily through the menus to find what they need.”

Photo by Love of Character that showcases merchandise displays.

Billings said, “I think it is helpful to find things that work well together, so someone buying a gift can pick up items that coordinate with it. Also, it is good for last minute sales; to have easy add on items up front by the register. Love of Character provides venue options at its shop for customers. Billings said she offers two spaces: “One we have had and is used mainly for birthday parties and showers. Our new one is larger and seems to be popular so far with showers, first birthdays, rehearsal dinners, and get-togethers.”

Birthday Girl by Mud Pie.

By offering space for gatherings retailers can provide solutions for customers who may not have the space in their own home, or who wish, for a host of reasons, not to use their space for a gathering. “My team meets with customers to  help plan their parties and pick out supplies. I made sure to hire employees that like party planning and are helpful to those who don’t or can’t figure out a vision,” Billings said.

What’s Trending

Buyers seek products which will fit a mood or a theme. Marchand said, “Among kids, party themes such as unicorns, dinosaurs, and mermaids have been a huge hit.” Children themed parties are also trending at Love of Character. “Princess, space, dinosaur, donut, rainbow, jungle, mermaid, and floral,” Billings said are popular at the moment.

“Gender reveal parties are more popular than ever with expectant parents using confetti tubes or popping jumbo balloons that reveal blue or pink confetti as a fun way to find out what they’re having,” said Marchand.

Billings shared fun napkins and candles are also popular in partyware merchandise. She also said fancy candy and kid toys make good sellers for customers entertaining young children.

Both Ellie and Piper Party Boutique and Love of Character disclosed balloons are extremely popular. Billings said, “We have seen an increase in people wanting fun balloon garlands and structures for their parties. Fringe backdrops are also becoming more popular.”

Photo courtesy of Ellie and Piper.

Billings said the most common item her customers didn’t know they needed was balloon decor. “Balloon garlands have been the most popular balloon item lately, but giant numbers seem to hold steady,” said Billings. “I do think people are opening up to unique party supplies more versus the licensed character styles or bulk packs.”

First birthday parties are spruced up with these pink beauties from Pioneer Balloon Co.

Marchland shared, “For any celebration, balloon garlands are extremely favored. You can customize garlands by color based on themes. They range from simple 11-inch latex balloons to more complex and over the top garlands featuring balloons in various sizes from 5 to 36 inches and colors; regular latex, pearl shimmer, confetti-filled, chrome, etc.”

Party Favors

There are ways to show appreciation to party guests and retailers may provide valuable solutions to customers by providing an array of products, or package merchandise together to create solutions and ease of purchasing. “Temporary tattoos and hair accessories are great add-on items for party favor bags for children’s parties,” said Marchand. “In addition, we stock little matches in glass bottles in pink and blue; they make cute party favors for baby showers or bridal showers.”

Photo courtesy of Ellie and Piper.

Love of Character also provides party favor ideas. Billings said, “Our vendors are starting to offer small items like stamps, tattoos, mini piñatas, and hats that coordinate with their supplies.”

Plates, napkins, and cups are always a necessity, and retailers can promote additional entertainment options for buyers to consider, such as decor, lighting, and balloons. Creative merchandising, coupled with the understanding of trends can help provide solutions for buyers to create memorable events no matter the occasion.

Partyware Merchandise Photo Gallery



Debbie Eisele

Debbie Eisele is the former managing editor for Gift Shop Plus, Stationery Trends and a variety of special issue publications, including: The Guide, Holiday Shop, Celebrations & Occasions and Waterfront Living.

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